TMJ/TMD Health Overview
If you came across this information in a search, it is likely that you or someone you care about very deeply is actively looking for solid answers to TMJ/TMD pain and suffering. Patients who have this condition usually suffer from a tremendous amount of pain and debilitating symptoms and have a hard time finding the right treatment. I would love to help.
Hello, I’m Dr. Howard Dean, DDS and I specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of complex TMJ patient cases involving degenerating chewing systems using Bioesthetic Principles. I have completed and graduated Level 4 advanced training at the OBI (Orognathic Bioesthetics International) Foundation for Bioesthetic Dentistry, which focuses on complete dental restorative treatment for patients who have (TMJ) temporomandibular joint issues.
I also completed the entire curriculum with the prestigious Dawson Academy, and was awarded Scholar status in 2013. I have directed the Dawson Academy Study Club Cincinnati, supporting dentists who are learning how to resolve their patients’ TMJ related problems. I treat patients on a regular basis who are referred from local physicians, cardiologists, patients, general dentists, and dental specialists.
Why Is TMJ Health Important?
The TMJs, or Temporomandibular Joints, are the two joints that connect your jawbone to your skull. They are located on each side of your face and allow you to speak, chew, and swallow. You need them to be able to move your jaw up and down and from side to side.
When these joints cease to function properly as they should, people start to experience a range of problems, including jaw pain, difficulty opening and closing their mouth, facial pain and tension, and headaches. In fact, the TMJs are so important that when they stop working, it can affect many aspects of your overall health and wellness.
What Is TMJ/TMD?
TMD (TMJ dysfunction or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) is the dental term describing a collection of symptoms which result when the chewing muscles, bite, and jaw joints do not work together correctly. In other words, it is a terrible and painful affliction which affects the joint that connects your jaw-bone to the temporal bones of your skull.
The health of our jaw joints is extremely important. The jaw joints function like a door on a set of hinges. The hinges (jaw joints) have to be right for the door to work without ruining the frame (the teeth and the chewing muscles). If these joints break down, that can be reflected in a long list of health problems, including but not limited to:
- Airway issues
- Postural issues
- Clicking popping or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
- Tooth breakdown and tooth loss
- Headaches, stress, tension in the face/neck/shoulders/back
- Aged smiles
- Sore teeth, sensitive teeth, loose teeth, worn teeth
- Gum infections
- Orofacial pain
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
- Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
- Clenching/grinding of teeth
As you can see, unhealthy jaw joints certainly lower the quality of life. The ultimate goal for the patient should be maintainable health for the total masticatory system, including the joints, teeth, musculature and surrounding structures.
TMJ/TMD leads to BITE DISEASE, which is the most common cause of dental problems, tooth loss, need for extensive restorative dentistry, instability of orthodontic treatment and is the most commonly missed diagnosis leading to unnecessary endodontics, tooth soreness and hypersensitivity.
How is TMJ Disorder treated?
My dental practice is devoted to getting at the root cause of any dental problems. I work on building a strong foundation, which is a key to long-term dental health. All bite analysis starts with the TMJs. If the TMJs are not stable, the bite will change, so it is risky to undertake bite changes without knowing the health of the TMJs.
My approach to providing TMJ relief is very thorough; determining the cause-and-effect relationship is key to identifying the problem and the treatment. My primary TMJ therapy often includes bite splints and retainers of various designs to help correct poor bites, decrease stresses at the joint level and reduce muscular hyperactivity, including clenching and grinding habits. This may be followed with bite therapy, including bite balancing (coronoplasty or equilibration), orthodontics or restorative treatment as needed. Other modalities of treatment I may recommend, include physical therapy for sore muscles and neck issues as well as evaluating sleep position, posture considerations, biofeedback and hypnotism. Occasionally joint surgery is necessary.
I approach each case from the perspective of providing the most conservative, minimally-invasive treatment possible in order to achieve a peaceful balance in the total masticatory system.
Occasionally short-term medications are necessary to assist such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers and sleep aids as they relate to TMJ pain. Prior to beginning each case, I use the axiom “WIDIOM”, which stands for “Would I do it on me?” in order to finalize any planned treatment.
Treating TMD with BioRejuvenation Dentistry
Quite often, patients who are experiencing issues with TMD are good candidates for BioRejuvenation Dentistry. BioRejuvenation Dentistry is a holistic approach that aims to restore the natural biology of the dental elements in order to improve a patient’s overall health and quality of life.
When treating TMD/TMJ Disorder, BioRejuvenation Dentistry is used to stabilize the jaw joint, relax the chewing muscles, and address the biological issues that lead to a decline in health. This is accomplished with minimally invasive techniques that are grounded in scientific study and research.
BioRejuvenation Dentistry isn’t just for TMJ sufferers. Anyone who has the overarching goal of wanting to improve the health and beauty of their smile can benefit from this form of dentistry.
Jaw & Facial Pain
BioRejuvenation Dentistry can be especially beneficial to patients experiencing jaw and facial pain. When a patient tells me they are experiencing jaw pain or TMJ symptoms, one of the first things I do is examine the position of their jaw. A misaligned jaw can lead to issues with the jaw joints and chewing system. Strain on the chewing muscles results in painful spasms that, in turn, cause dysfunction of the jaw joints. Rejuvenating the mouth structure can help relax the chewing muscles and improve jaw joint functionality, thereby relieving pain. The reduction in stress is visible on the face, resulting in a more youthful look.
Misaligned Teeth (Malocclusion)
BioRejuvenation Dentistry can also be used to treat malocclusion. Issues with the alignment of the teeth can also cause pain and cosmetic imperfections. Teeth grinding and clenching are common for patients with this dental concern. Correcting the alignment of the teeth reduces strain on the chewing system, thereby eliminating grinding and discomfort and restoring the beauty of your smile.
What Does BioRejuvenation Dental Treatment Involve?
BioRejuvenation Dentistry looks different for everyone. There simply is no one-size-fits-all solution. This is because everyone’s dental health is different and BioRejuvenation Dentistry focuses on fixing the root cause of oral health issues. These issues vary from one person to the next depending on their lifestyle, oral hygiene habits, etc. Therefore, treatment must be customized.
That being said, proper diagnosis is key to success. That’s why I always start the process with a comprehensive oral health examination. From there, after evaluating the patient’s TMJ health, bite alignment, and overall dental health, a custom treatment plan can then be implemented.
BioRejuvenation Dental Treatment can include a number of dental services including:
● TMJ therapy
● Tooth restoration
● Bite alignment
● Dental crowns and bridges
● Dental veneers
● Orthognathic surgery
● Physical Therapy
● Other restorative and/or cosmetic treatments
Of course, this is not to say that all of these treatments will be necessary. These are just some examples of what a treatment plan may include. BioRejuvenation Dentistry aims to be as minimally invasive as possible. This means doing only what’s necessary and preserving as much as the original dental elements as possible.
TMD/TMJ Treatment Process
As mentioned previously, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, also known as TMJ or TMD, is a condition in which the jaw joints cease to function properly. Usually, it is the result of an unstable bite which places strain on the chewing system, causing pain and dysfunction. In order to correct this condition, the jaw joint must first be stabilized. Usually this is done through MAGO therapy (“MAGO” stands for Maxillary Anterior Guidance Orthotic), also known as bite splint therapy.
Next, restorative procedures are set into motion to address the root cause of the issue and ensure that it doesn’t happen again in the future. The ultimate goal is to restore the natural biology of the dental system with minimally invasive methods. By doing so, patients are able to achieve relief from pain and discomfort, a better-looking smile, and improved quality of life.
Treating TMJ starts with a detailed and accurate diagnosis. The underlying issues leading to jaw joint dysfunction must first be identified. Then I apply the principles of BioRejuvenation Dentistry to the treatment process, working in a minimally invasive way to stabilize the jaw joint and prevent symptoms from returning in the future. The goal is always to improve the patient’s overall health and quality of life in addition to relieving their symptoms.
First, I begin with a comprehensive oral health examination, which includes an analysis of the patient’s bite. Bite analysis is key to identifying the root problem. During your appointment, I will also ask about your oral health history and symptoms.
Knowing the symptoms of TMD and what to look for is important for an accurate diagnosis. People who suffer from TMJ Disorder, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, experience a wide range of symptoms including:
● Difficulty chewing
● Feelings of soreness or tiredness in the face
● Jaw pain
● Frequent headaches or migraines
● Problems opening and closing the mouth
● Clicking or popping noises that come from the jaw area
● Teeth grinding and clenching
● Face swelling
● Sleep problems
Bite Splint Therapy
The next step is to start implementing TMJ therapy, which usually involves the use of a bite splint or retainer. A special device is worn over the teeth until the chewing muscles relax and the jaw joints once again become stable.
Final Phase of Treatment
The final phase of treatment involves taking steps to correct the issues which led to TMJ dysfunction in the first place. This may include bite balancing, orthodontics, restorative treatment, and other procedures. Repositioning the jaw also allows the airway to remain open and unobstructed, eliminating sleep apnea.
I truly believe that operating in this manner of doing only what’s necessary, preserving the original dental elements, and considering the big picture of the patient’s overall health allows for a better experience and lasting results. Through this process, patients are able to find relief from TMJ Disorder symptoms and lead happier, healthier lives.
TMJ Treatment Message from Dr. Howard B. Dean, DDS
If you believe that you may have TMJ/TMD or if you already know you are suffering from TMJ disorder symptoms and want to explore your treatment options, I’d love to help you. I encourage you to contact my office at (513) 829-2026 and schedule an appointment for my Complimentary Consultation or my Complimentary 2nd Opinion Consultation for TMJ/TMD Treatment & Diagnosis.
I specialize in TMJ/TMD treatment disorder at my dental practice in Fairfield and many of our patients come see us from West Chester, Hamilton, Cincinnati, Dayton, and other surrounding communities for my specialized care. My team and I also have extensive experience in treating oral health afflictions of all types. Together, we can restore your dental health and help you achieve true holistic wellness.
I also provide Minimally-Invasive Biologic & Holistic Dentistry, BioRejuvenation Dentistry, General Dentistry, Family Dentistry, Periodontal Care, Dental Implants, Senior Dentistry, and Cosmetic Dentistry including porcelain veneers, teeth whitening, and ClearCorrect aligners.